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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Walnut Creek Wetland Center in Raleigh, North Carolina by Frank Harmon Architect PA

May 6th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

The 7500-square-foot Walnut Creek Wetland Center is part of the transformation of over 50 acres of abused, polluted wetlands in southeast Raleigh, North Carolina, near the downtown urban center, into a living, natural resource for the city. By reclaiming the wetlands area, the Center promotes understanding and protection of an urban wetland, enhances community pride, and encourages economic development in this area of the city. It also provides an accessible “quiet zone” for communing with nature while preserving the natural beauty of the wetland, protecting the habitat of numerous species, and lifting the spirits of those who visit it.

Front elevation at dusk.

  • Architect: Frank Harmon Architect PA
  • Name of Project: Walnut Creek Wetland Center
  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
  • Client: The City of Raleigh, NC

The building in the wetlands, showing how the porch wraps around the end of the structure and the building reaches out to the natural environment.

  • Project Manager: Frank Harmon Architect PA, Erin Sterling, AIA, LEED
  • Project Landscape Architect: Cynthia Rice Landscape Architecture + Planning, LLC
  • Mechanical Engineer: Consider Design, PA, Isaac Panzarella, PE
  • Structural Engineer: Tim Martin, PE
  • Civil Engineer: McKim + Creed, Chris Stanley, PC, CFM

A view of the backporch from the opposite end.

To conserve and protect the natural wetland, the Center rests lightly upon the sensitive land. Poised above the flood plain to create a minimal footprint, the Center embraces the indigenous materials surrounding it and responds to the climate and culture of southeast Raleigh. The all-wood construction utilizes recycled materials wherever possible and blends seamlessly into the landscape while an abundance of windows welcome the surroundings into the building.

A huge backporch stretches across the full length of the wetlands-side of the building and serves as an open-air hallway to all classrooms.

The windows also facilitate natural ventilation and illumination. All circulation occurs on the exterior of the building across a large south facing porch that projects out into the environment and recalls the deep, shaded porches of old Southern homes. The metal roof’s overhang protects the porch and interior from the high, harsh summer sun yet allows the warmth of the lower winter sun to penetrate into the interior.

Site plan

A bio retention system adjacent to the parking lot is also in place to filter storm water runoff before it returns to Walnut Creek. The Center houses a lobby and exhibit area, classrooms, a conference room and a kitchen. Here, children and adults learn about urban wetlands within a wetland while enjoying renewed interest in this area of the city. The center will one day be connected to extensive trails and outdoor activities as the multi-phased project continues.

The section showing the building’s green features.

The Walnut Creek Wetland Center recently received an Environmental Design Award from the City of Raleigh and in 2010 received a Merit Awards from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Related posts:

Contact Frank Harmon Architect PA and Frank Harmon Architect PA

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Category: Educational Center

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